Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez was born March 31, 1927 in Arizona. He early on acquired a sense of injustice when his father was swindled out of some land that he owned. In school he was forbidden to speak Spanish, the only tongue he spoke at home, and in general experienced racism and segregation. He dropped out of school in grade 8 and became a migrant farm worker after his father suffered an accident. Later when he worked for the United Farm Workers he promoted education widely. Chavez wrote, "The end of all education should surely be service to others." In 1944 he joined the Navy at age 17. In 1948 he married Helen Fabela, with whom he had 5 children. He was influenced by Father Donald McDonnell to think about farm workers and strikes, and he read extensively about St. Francis, Gandhi, and nonviolence. In 1962 he helped found the National Farm Workers Association, later simply known as the United Farm Workers (UFW). He helped stage a grape strike and his fasts focused national attention on farm workers’ problems. He led a 340-mile march from Delano to Sacremento in 1966 advocating better pay and working conditions, and he also pointed out the dangers of pesticides. He used only nonviolent tactics such as boycotts, pickets and strikes. He fasted at different times for 24, 25 and 36 days. He was a vegetarian animal rights activist although primarily a labour activist. He died peacefully in his sleep April 23, 1993 with a blissful smile on his face.

I am indebted to http://lascaltures.com/aa/bio/bioCesarChavez.htm for the writing of this biography.

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